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Portland restaurant Los Gorditos still struggling to get by due to pandemic

In 15 years, a Portland business went from a single food truck to five restaurants, but the owners are still struggling due to the pandemic.

PORTLAND, Ore. — In 15 years, Portland restaurant Los Gorditos went from one single food truck to five restaurants. It has been a true small-business success story. But like many businesses, the pandemic had a big impact on Los Gorditos and continues to impact the business.

Alicia Mignano's family owns the restaurants. She said COVID-19 has hit the Hispanic community hard, so she has to protect all her employees. During the warmer months, Mignano said there was patio seating available, but the family is currently doing take-out only at all their locations. The staff is not comfortable opening up the dining rooms just yet.

"We have to make good decisions because if we make a bad decision, it will not only hurt us and our family but then the families of those who work with us," Mignano said.

Mignano said they will continue to do takeout throughout the winter months and she'll speak to her staff about getting back to normal. Even with all the uncertainty, she's hopeful for the future even as the past 18 months have been really challenging.

"At one point we had closed four of our locations and we were only doing takeout at 4th and Division," Mignano said. "And we still had to pay rent. Bills don't stop coming."

The family has purchased a building which is home to one of their restaurants on 83rd and Powell. Once it's paid off, Mignano said she hopes it will provide extra income for her parents once they retire.

Credit: Eric Patterson

The food at Los Gorditos comes from her mother's recipes. The family came to Portland in the late 1990s after first immigrating to Los Angeles from Mexico.

"As an immigrant you do random jobs here and there and I always had the idea it would be really great to own our own business as a family," Mignano said.

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